Saifuddin: Emergency Ordinance only focuses on tackling fake news on Covid-19, Emergency Proclamation

PUTRAJAYA (March 13): The enforcement of the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No 2) Ordinance 2021 is specifically aimed to tackle fake news on Covid-19 and Emergency Proclamation, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah (pictured).

He said the ordinance is a short-term remedy to curb the spread of fake news on the pandemic and the Proclamation of Emergency to ensure public order and safety.

"This (ordinance enforcement) is only for the emergency period… It is not going to be forever," he said while refuting the allegation that the ordinance is politically motivated.

Saifuddin said this at a joint press conference with Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan here on the ordinance, which took effect yesterday.

He said the ordinance enforcement will be carried out by the Royal Malaysia Police and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) officers.

"The ordinance is aimed at expediting the process of enforcement, investigation, and prosecution, while the court proceedings remain unchanged," he said, adding that 270 cases of fake news on Covid-19 and 16 cases relating to the Proclamation of Emergency are currently being investigated by the police and the MCMC.

Saifuddin said legal actions are also being taken for fake news cases reported earlier and their sentences are not at all involved with the enforcement of the ordinance so as to avoid double jeopardy.

He said the MCMC has organised the "freedom of speech but not freedom to lie" campaign and the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia's quick response team has been making announcements almost every day to clarify suspicious news but the spread of fake news is still rampant.

"Now is the strategic time. The (National Covid-19) Immunisation Programme must succeed as it is the biggest solution to Covid-19. We cannot fail.

"We are a very reasonable, passionate, and functioning government. Our interest is the people and to fight Covid-19. My plea to the rakyat: Give us a chance to implement this," he said.

At the press conference, Saifuddin also provided an illustrative example of the spread of fake news which may face legal action under the ordinance.

"For example, A wrote in his blog, claiming that Z died after receiving a Covid-19 vaccine, then A can be charged.

"Or A offered false information on Covid-19 to B, who then published it on his blog without knowing that it was false. So A and B are both in the wrong," Saifuddin said.

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